ASHEVILLE, NC – The U.S. Forest Service Threat Assessment Centers officially unveiled ForWarn, a satellite-based monitoring and assessment tool that recognizes and tracks potential forest disturbances caused by insects, diseases, wildfires, extreme weather and other natural or human-caused events.

Using NASA MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectoradiometer) satellite imagery, ForWarn detects changes in vegetation across the nation's forests, providing a near real-time view of potential threats and recovery.

The U.S. Forest Service has used a prototype version of ForWarn since January 2010. It uses a web-based map tool, the Forest Change Assessment Viewer, to provide an eight-day coast-to-coast snapshot that can be interpreted for anomalies and compared to archived forest disturbance maps.

ForWarn's Eye in the Sky Technology Sees Forest Threats“ForWarn epitomizes the type of product envisioned when the Threat Assessment Centers were created,” said Danny Lee, director of the Eastern Threat Center in Asheville. “This tool literally puts space-age technology into the hands of forest resource professionals.  It's a remarkable collaborative achievement.”

“We are excited to unveil ForWarn and the Forest Change Assessment Viewer, intuitive products that use advanced technology to provide a current look at forest changes and help focus on-the-ground response efforts,” says William Hargrove, Eastern Threat Center lead ForWarn researcher. "We will continue to refine and update these tools that will help guide activities and resources in impacted areas.”

In addition to the U.S. Forest Service and NASA, the ForWarn development partnership includes the U.S. Geological Survey; the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and the University of North Carolina Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center.

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